Fowler out, Miller in as Glory ring the changes

by Neil Sherwin

It’s another Hyundai A-League offseason and another period of transition for the clubs involved, none more so than Perth Glory.

Former Liverpool legend and England striker Robbie Fowler last week announced that he would not be returning to the club for family reasons, leaving New Zealand international Shane Smeltz as the marquee signing and focal point of the attack.

In truth, the departure of Fowler may not necessarily be a bad thing. At 36, he is no longer the livewire player he once was and often looked disinterested last year.

Given his stature in the game however he was always likely to start games even when not in the best of form.

“Firstly, I’d like to show my appreciation to the Chairman for his understanding,” he said in a club issued statement.

“The Chairman has been exceptional since I signed for the club, and I thank him for the opportunity to play for Perth Glory. I have a wonderful and loving family to consider and with the children in school, it’s best to keep them settled.

“I also need to stay in the UK to complete my coaching badges. I thank everyone at Perth Glory and in Western Australia for making me feel so welcome and I wish Ian Ferguson and the players all the best for the coming season.”

The signing of Smeltz, who scored in last year’s World Cup finals, as Fowler’s replacement is seen as the key to improving the club’s league position in 2011/12. A fantastic start to the last campaign saw Glory top the table early on but it all fell apart midseason to leave them second from bottom at the end of the regular season.

In other significant transfer news, Republic of Ireland international midfielder Liam Miller has joined the club on a two year deal from Scottish Premier League side Hibernian. The former Manchester United and Celtic player could be the creative influence in the middle of the park that Glory supporters have been seeking for a long time.

“I’m thrilled to be heading to Perth,” said the 30 year old who also enjoyed spells with Leeds United and Sunderland.

“I have heard a lot of wonderful things about the City of Perth but football is the most important thing. Perth Glory is a proud club with a great history and I’m looking forward to the new challenge when I join Ian Ferguson and my new team mates.”

Meanwhile, last year’s first choice goalkeeper Tando Velaphi has left for Melbourne Victory and has been replaced by former Olyroos man Danny Vukovic, who was famously banned from the game in 2008 for pushing a referee. Vukovic is seen as a massive upgrade on Velaphi whose handling and decision making last season was suspect to say the least.

Veteran midfielder Travis Dodd will add some more experience to the midfield following a move from Adelaide United, with Adam Hughes also now another option in the middle of the park. Into the backline come Dean Heffernan and Evan Berger, while highly rated youngster Jess Makarounas has also joined.

Long serving full back Jamie Coyne has switched to Sydney United and, despite his years of service to Glory, there were very few tears shed at his departure, particularly with the signing of Bas van den Brink as his replacement. Naum Sekulovski, Brent Griffiths, Anthony Skorich, Howard Fondyke, Michael Baird, Andy Todd, Aleks Vrteski and Andrjia Jukic are included in a long list of players from last season’s squad to have also departed.

With four months still to go until the season kicks off, friendlies are the order of the day and Glory will host Celtic at NIB Stadium on July 9 in front of what will be close to a sell out crowd.

The aim for the club this season has to be a playoff spot, in the process overcoming the sort of false dawn that we saw last year.

This article first appeared on the excellent award winning site thefootballsack.com.

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